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AR – The Business of Architecture 147


AR – The Business of Architecture 147


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You may not know, but Erdington is about 3.8 miles from Jerrard Drive in Sutton Coldfield. You may also not know (or care, I should warrant) that Erdington and Sutton Coldfield are both towns in the UK’s West Midlands (well, they were both part of Warwickshire until that heinous redrawing of the county boundaries in 1974, but that’s a whole different story). Why am I telling you this?

Well, Ken Shuttleworth, this issue’s cover star and the subject of our lead story, was born and bred in Erdington, while I spent a goodly portion of my childhood in Jerrard Drive, Sutton Coldfield. Goodness. Practically twins.

Perhaps that’s why I liked talking to him so very much. And why he seemed to just say one terribly sensible thing after another. Shared cultural backgrounds and all that.

One of the smartest, although also ‘earning 10 points for stating the bleeding obvious’, was this gem: “It’s almost the most basic piece of economics that you’ve got to earn more than you spend. People ask me what’s the magic? And that’s what you’ve got to do. Don’t spend more than you earn.”

Forehead slap, eh?

But Shuttleworth is absolutely right. This is the second issue in the new look AR and the mantra ‘don’t spend more than you earn’ is at the very heart of what we’re doing with this change in direction. Not simply because the previous incarnation of the magazine was causing issues in that department for us (though, of course, that was a huge consideration), but primarily because we realised that, simple or not, it’s these basic business processes that can be the areas of greatest struggle for architectural practices.

How do you regulate your cash flow, when, as Shuttleworth also notes, “The phone goes and you’ve either won or lost a commission, and you either need people or you don’t”? How do you plan for HR? For future-proofing your business? How do you accommodate the newest and most exciting technology in the architectural sphere? How do you keep abreast of the latest legislation when there are sketches to draft, sites to visit and clients to pitch to or liaise with? Your business is a creative one, but if you spend every day doing nothing but designing beautiful buildings and dreaming up future environments, you’ll find your metaphorical walls tumbling down quicker than you can say, Le Corbusier (Gesundheit).

This is where we come in. But you can help us to help you. If there are areas of your business you find challenging, let us know. If there are topics you think we should be covering that will aid you in your nose to the grindstone, head down, bottom up daily business chores…share them with us.

Drop me a line. Call me up. We’re quite amenable, us Warwickshire folk (all right, all right, Midlanders…)

I look forward to hearing from you.

Madeleine Swain

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